Dish Network loses 341,000 subcribers in Q3 as Sling TV growth stalls

dish dishes
Despite the deflating subscriber growth figures, Dish Network did exceed expectations in terms of revenue and earnings per share. (FierceVideo)

Dish Network posted a net loss of 341,000 video subscribers during the third quarter as declines in its legacy satellite business greatly outpaced slowing growth for Sling TV.

Dish TV subscribers declined by approximately 367,000 and Sling TV subscribers increased by approximately 26,000. Dish TV's average monthly subscriber churn rate swelled to 2.11%, up from 1.82% one year ago. Dish’s net losses didn’t stack up favorably with the 16,000 video subscribers it added in the year-ago quarter.

Dish closed out the quarter with nearly 10.3 million Dish TV subscribers and 2.37 million Sling TV subscribers.

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Despite the deflating subscriber growth figures, Dish Network did exceed expectations in terms of revenue and earnings per share. The company reported total revenues of $3.4 billion for the quarter, down annually from $3.58 billion but $10 million ahead of where Wall Street expected the company to finish. Similarly, the company’s earnings per share of $0.82 came in $0.15 ahead of what financial analysts had anticipated.

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Net income attributable to Dish Network totaled $432 million, up from $297 million during the same quarter in 2017. Dish attributed the increase to positive impact by noncash adjustments related to the adoption of the ASC 606 revenue recognition standard.

Unlike competitors including DirecTV, Comcast and Charter, Dish does not yet have a connectivity business to fall back on as video subscriber attrition continues. In the first quarter of 2018, the company discontinued its DishNET internet service and is now in the process of building out its wireless NB-IoT network.

Dish said that additional wireless spectrum licenses may be required to commercialize its wireless business and to compete with other wireless service providers. The company currently expects expenditures for its wireless projects to be between $500 million and $1 billion through 2020, and that the second phase of its network deployment will cost approximately $10 billion.

“We will need to make significant additional investments or partner with others to, among other things, commercialize, build-out, and integrate these licenses and related assets, and any additional acquired licenses and related assets; and comply with regulations applicable to such licenses,” Dish wrote in an SEC filing.